As banks repay their loans from the Long-Term Refinancing Operation, the ECB’s balance sheet is shrinking. This column argues that, given the slow recovery and sustained low inflation, the ECB should replace its bank lending programme with quantitative easing. Buying short-term government debt would be consistent with the ECB’s inflation target, would keep the ECB’s monetary policy separate from its role in bank supervision, and would create a built-in exit strategy from unconventional policy.
Mickey Levy, Friday, May 16, 2014 - 00:00
Jan Willem van den End , Jakob de Haan, Friday, March 28, 2014 - 00:00
While many economists argue that demand stimulus is needed, this column argues that supply side measures are necessary to avoid secular stagnation. In the Eurozone, it is necessary to clean up and strengthen the balance sheets of banks, which can kick-start the flow of new lending. The comprehensive assessment by the ECB is an important step in this direction.
Jeffrey Frankel, Monday, March 24, 2014 - 00:00
The Eurozone needs to further ease monetary policy because under the current low inflation and high unemployment periphery countries need to suffer painful deflation. However, the ECB faces challenges other central banks do not face. This column proposes a way to overcome some of these hurdles. It argues that the ECB should buy US treasury securities, lowering the foreign exchange value of the euro. That would be the best way to restore the export sector of the periphery countries.
Michael Bordo, Friday, March 21, 2014 - 00:00
Since 2007, there has been a buildup of TARGET imbalances within the Eurosystem – growing liabilities of national central banks in the periphery matched by growing claims of central banks in the core. This column argues that, rather than signalling the collapse of the monetary system – as was the case for Bretton Woods between 1968 and 1971 – these TARGET imbalances represent a successful institutional innovation that prevented a repeat of the US payments crisis of 1933.
Katharina Pistor, Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 00:00
Who wields supreme power over the ECB? This column analyses the recent ruling by the German Constitutional Court that the ECB cannot act as lender of last resort. Although seemingly couched by the referral of this decision to the European Court of Justice, this is a bid for power and the return to the pre-crisis paradigm of ‘ultra posse nemo obligatur’.
Nicholas Crafts, Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 00:00
Nicholas Crafts talks to Viv Davies about his recent work on the threatening issue of public debt in the Eurozone. Crafts maintains that the implicit fault line in the EZ is evident; several EZ economies face a long period of fiscal consolidation and low growth and that a different sort of central bank might be preferable. They also discuss the challenges and constraints of banking, fiscal and federal union. The interview was recorded in London on 17 January 2014.
Donato Masciandaro, Francesco Passarelli, Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 00:00
During the Great Moderation, central banks focused on price stability, and independence was seen as crucial to limit inflation bias. Since the Global Financial Crisis, emergency support measures for banks, and central banks’ increasing involvement in supervision, have called central bank independence into question. This column argues that the literature has overlooked the distributional effects of the tradeoff between monetary and financial stability. In a political economy framework, heterogeneity in voters’ portfolios can cause the degree of central bank independence to differ from the social optimum.
Nicholas Crafts, Friday, December 13, 2013 - 00:00
This column argues that the legacy of public debt resulting from the crisis in the Eurozone is a serious threat. Both the size of the problem and the options to address it make life much more difficult for policymakers than was the case in the late 1930s after the collapse of the gold standard. For some countries, a ‘subservient’ central bank might be preferable to the ECB.
Jens Nordvig, Monday, November 25, 2013 - 00:00
Having promised to do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure the survival of the euro, the ECB now faces the problem of record high unemployment combined with a strong currency. There is accumulating evidence that the ECB is more willing to fight currency appreciation than the Bundesbank would have been. Capital inflows have been a key source of recent upward pressure on the euro. Should this continue, the ECB may need to intervene more aggressively in order to promote economic recovery in the Eurozone.
Thorsten Beck, Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 00:00
Much has happened since VoxEU published an eBook on the banking union in Europe one year ago. In this column, the editor of the eBook reviews the developments and plans of the past year. Many of the issues flagged by eBook contributors are still relevant and have not yet been addressed. While immediate pressures seemed to have receded, the crisis is still very much with us and is still awaiting resolution.
Hans Gersbach, Volker Hahn, Monday, October 7, 2013 - 00:00
The publication of attributed voting records and minutes of the ECB council’s meetings would increase the influence of national governments and discourage pro-Eurozone behaviour. This column argues that this would be undesirable. Publishing non-attributed summary minutes, however, would enhance the ECB’s accountability towards the public.
Tilman Bletzinger, Volker Wieland, Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 00:00
The ECB has promised to keep interest rates low for an “extended period of time”. In a broad hint to the profession, President Draghi stressed a reasonable forecast of this period could be extracted from a monetary policy reaction function. This column presents one such forecast based on published macro forecasts and a reaction function that fits the ECB’s past behaviour. The result is that ECB interest rates will rise by May 2014 at the latest.
Michael Burda, Monday, July 15, 2013 - 00:00
Eurozone national central banks that take a national perspective risk politicising the ECB’s monetary policy. This column argues that this is a significant risk that should be overcome with a fundamental overhaul of the Eurosystem. A central element would be to take the ‘national’ out of the EZ’s national central banks. Just as US regional Fed banks encompass more than one US state, EZ ‘national’ central banks area of responsibility should be redrawn along economic geography lines rather than nation lines. An example of such a proposal is provided.
Marco Annunziata, Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 00:00
Economists and policymakers are increasingly concerned that central-bank independence is being threatened. This column argues that central banks are not losing their independence, but that their room for manoeuvre is being eroded by a lack of structural reforms and fiscal adjustment. The financial crisis has caused mission creep, pushing central banks well beyond their comfort zones and as the time comes to pull back, independent monetary policy could still be powerless against fiscal dominance.
Markus K Brunnermeier, Hans Gersbach, Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 00:00
As governments and the EU wring their hands over banking reform, a fragile system remains in place. This column argues that the ECB’s current role undermines its independence. What the Eurozone needs to reduce undue forbearance - while preserving the ECB's independence - is a ‘diarchy’ in which both a newly built Restructuring Authority and the ECB have the power to trigger bank-restructuring.
David Miles, Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 00:00
David Miles talks to Viv Davies about the conclusions of his recent research on quantitative easing and unconventional monetary policy. Miles discusses the different types of 'asset purchasing programmes' adopted by the Bank of England, the Fed and the ECB; they also discuss the importance of current research in these areas and the potential risks associated with quantitative easing. The interview was recorded at the Bank of England on 21 November 2012. [Also read the transcript]
Daniel Gros, Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 00:00
An integrated banking system saved Nevada after a local real estate boom turned to bust. Without an integrated banking system, the same wasn’t true of Ireland. This column argues that comparing Ireland and Nevada shows that banking union is far more important for Europe than current proposals of fiscal union. And, in the absence of a proper banking union that covers losses, it seems ever more likely that Europe will be pushed back towards nationally segmented financial markets.
Sylvester Eijffinger, Rob Nijskens, Friday, November 23, 2012 - 00:00
The Eurozone is moving towards a banking union with the ECB at its centre. This column argues that there are problems with the European Commission’s proposal. The ECB can never supervise all 6000 banks in the Eurozone, supervision should be separated from monetary policy to avoid conflicts of interest, and joint deposit insurance and resolution funds must be created. Furthermore, the ECB should exert constructive ambiguity in its supervision.
Peter Bofinger, Claudia M. Buch, Lars P Feld, Wolfgang Franz, Christoph M Schmidt, Monday, November 12, 2012 - 00:00
The sovereign debt crisis has revealed severe flaws in the EU internal market. Common monetary policy has not been accompanied by the transfer of authority to supervise banks and risks of banks and states have become dangerously intertwined. This column summarises the proposal of the German Council of Economic Experts for a full banking union which aim at correcting these deficits.
Michael McMahon, Udara Peiris, Herakles Polemarchakis, Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 00:00
‘Sterilisation’ - where purchases of assets by a central bank are offset by withdrawals - may help the ECB to control inflation. This column discusses how the ECB’s current approach may be fraught with danger, however. In a world where sovereign default risk is perceived to be likely, the ECB’s only real hope is that its approach makes a Eurozone default impossible.